Sister Johanna Didier spent 43 years in Brazil. Following is her Primer on How to be a Missionary Overseas. We hope you enjoy it.
In 1960s the congregation was urged to minister in South America. Mother Borromeo sent 4 sisters to Santa Helena in Goiânia, Brazil to form a mission there in 1963.
Today 21 members of our congregation minister in different parts of Brazil. Their ministries span from education to family ministry. Currently, there are 17 Professed Sisters, 3 Temporary Professed Sisters and 1 Pre-novice in Brazil.
These Sisters continue our ministry as teachers in all levels of education (including the blind), in religious education, in pastoral care, as administrators, as leaders of parish liturgy, as clinical psychologist, as pastoral counselor, in special pastoral program for women and children, in care of the elderly, in health services, in a program for the rural community, in recruitment and formation of new members, in a program for lay men and women as collaborators (associates) of the Congregation.
Our geographic territory in central Brazil now includes five missions in the state of Goiás, and one in the state of Tocantins, a northern tropical state formed from Goiás. Our Sisters also ministered to the people who built the new capitol city, Brazilia, from 1966-80. Individual Sisters have ministered in Rondônia, Petropolis, Santarém, and Rio de Janiero.Pictured above is our community in Brazil. Sister Ruth Berry, (fourth from the left in the backrow) is one of the original sisters to go to Brazil in 1963. Sister Johanna Didier (first on the left in the backrow) recently returned home to Joliet after 43 years of grace-filled service in Brazil. She now resides at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home.
Click here to view a video on YouTube of our San Damiano School in Brazil.
Did You Know
In 1962, Pope John XXIII asked congregations of women religious throughout North America to send ten percent of their memberships to Latin America. Catholicism was the predominant religion in the region, but the priests and sisters who were needed to care for the people were few and far between.
If Mother Borromeo had not received an invitation to visit Brazil, the congregation’s South American ministry may very well have been in Peru. But an invitation to visit Brazil was presented by the Camden, NJ priests and the rest, as they say, is history.
Of the original four Sisters who arrived in Santa Helena in December 1963; (see picture below) Sister Norma Clare (Ruth) Berry, still serves in Brazil today, Sister Miriam David (Susan) Balmes, Sister Lawrence (Mary Ann) Glascott, and Sister Gretchen (Grace) Straub are pictured with Mother Borromeo Mack.
For more information about our history and work in Brazil, please see Autumn 2008 issue of Confiança.
Shown above are the four sisters who were sent to Brazil in 1963, along with Mother Borromeo Mack, OSF.